Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Blackpowder Game Review: The 2nd Siege of Kolberg (fictional Napoleonic)- Part 1

Last weekend an event of extraordinary extent took place in Krefeld a small town in the Rhine area of Germany. The wargaming group I've been playing with regularly for a few months is playing some games for a partly fictional Napoleonic campaign from time to time. Besides smaller scenarios they hold a big weekend event anually and this time the fictional second siege of Kolberg was fought out.

First for the (partly fictional) background:
In late 1812 Napoleon's Grand Armée retreated from Russia after their defeat during the French invasion. At that time Lieutenant General Ludwig York von Wartenburg lead a Prussian corps which represented the rearguard of the French army. During the march and after some minor skirmishes he lost connection to the other French forces and became isolated. Under the pressure of his subordinate officers and initiated by General Carl von Clausewitz who was in service of the Russian Empire York signed the Convention of Tauroggen on 30th December 1812 and made a separate ceasefire with Russia.

Thereafter the story of the campagne took an alternative way:
The ceasefire caused kind of atmosphere of departure in Prussia. The French tried to scotch this by attacking York's headquarter and taking him and Clausewitz imprisoned. After a propaganda trial both were executed as traitors. Nevertheless the flame of freedom was ignited in Prussia. While well-known statesmen protested against the alliance with France, August von Gneisenau took a secret mission to Russia, Sweden and England. He convinced the allies that it was the right moment to lead the crucial blow against Napoleon. After von Gneisenau delivered an impressive speech in front of the Houses of Parliament, the English decided to set up an expiditionary force to support Prussia. These troops landed in Kolberg in Western Pomerania and conquered the town (which the French besieged five years ago) and the surrounding harbour and fort. (This scenario was fought last year.)
Now the French realized the rising pressure and gathered their troops to destroy the English bridgehead. They sent the 10th Division under the command of General Dominique-Joseph René Vandamme and assigned support of large reserves of the III. French Corps and a Polish Division that should defend Vandamme's flank against the allied reinforcements (Russian, Austrian and Prussian troops). Meanwhile the British forcers lead by General Rowland Hill fortified Kolberg and prepared themselves to hold the town until reliefed by their allies...

Initial position on Saturday.
So the game started on Saturday from the following initial position:
- An English Division under command of General Rowland Hill holding Kolberg
- The 10th Division of General Vandamme attacking Kolberg
- A French Brigade (mainly Swiss troops in Napoleon's service) holding the village Henkenhagen
- A Polish Division holding the villages Bullenwinkel, Degow and Fritzow
- Allied relief approaching from the East:
   - Prussian troops in the North along the coast
   - Russian and Austrian troops advancing towards Bullenwinkel and Degow

Because I wasn't present on Saturday I don't know the exact deployment. But it must have been something like this.

The grey area is kind of abstract. It wasn't built up as table but it held the French camp and their reserves. The French and Polish players were able to ask for reserves by sending ADCs and then based on a set of special rules they got the reinforcements by way of the roads from the grey area onto the battlefield.

The table we played on was enormous. One of the umpires told me that it measured about 70 square feet. The two longer sides had about 6 metres while the shorter ones had about 3 metres. When I arrived on Sunday morning the table was packed with excellent terrain pieces, nice buildings and absolutely beautiful miniatures.

Take a look at this long shot and judge the impression yourselves:
The enourmus 70 square feet table...

Michael, one of the English leaders, was present on Saturday only. Therefore I got his place on the battlefield and  took command of the brigade under Major General Sir Denis Pack. It consisted of four line infantry bataillons which were based at the fortress of Kolberg and behind the entrechment. Additionally Axel, the English supreme commander, put two batteries of 12 pdr. guns and a battery of RHA Rocket Troops under my command.

So take a look at the town of Kolberg and the fort guarding the East. In the background you see the southern entrechments and the Wolfsberg where the French heavy artillery took stand:

The town of Kolberg with French troops advancing from the front (South) and from the left (East).
However the English troops were holding the fortifications steadily. Here you see the fortress manned by the brave soldier's of Pack's Brigade. You might recognize the men on the front part as the 44th Rgt. of Foot which I painted during the last weeks:
Kolberg's fort manned by the English.
On the other side the French set up strong artillery forces around Kolberg. On top of the Wolfsberg hill they placed serveral batteries of heavy guns and a howitzer. Therewith they were able to hit the entrechments heavily and caused several breaches. But they weren't able to storm those breaches on Saturday since the English held up bravely.
The French artillery on top of the Wolfsberg.
On the Eastern side of Kolberg the French deployed their Guard Artillery. They set up two heavy guns, a medium gum and a howitzer to set heavy shelling onto the fort. When I took command the walls were still intact but already heavily hit... It was only a question of time when the French would be able to shoot them to pieces...

French Guard artillery shooting at the fort.
Well... That's enough for now. It's the situation of Sunday morning. During the next days I'll try to write a report of the happenings during the second day of the siege. I'll not be able to review the whole game because it was just too much. But nevertheless some more nice pictures and some continuative information...

Read more about this epic event in Part 2: Here.


  1. What can I say, wargaming at its best. Congratulations on a fantastic set up.


  2. Thanks for the nice comments, but I must underline that only a few miniatures were mine.

    The table, the terrain, the scenario etc. etc. was prepared by the members of the THS gaming group.
    I'll state that at the end of the next post again...


  3. The game looks fantastic, I'm very envious. Look forward to the next installment.

  4. Wow! Now that's a wargaming table!!! I thought ours was big!! Superb stuff Monty!!

  5. Fantastic looking battle, very jealous that you have such a excellent group to game with! I featured one of the battles put on by the THS on my blog last year. Just gorgeous terrain and miniatures. Your lovely Brits fit right in!


  6. Looks like a great game!
    Fantastic setup!

  7. What a nice game.
    Most have been impressive to se live.

  8. Fantastic looking table! It's great to see games like this getting played in country so to speak.